Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Area colleges: Bergerud lifts Stars in women's basketball

Freshman Megan Bergerud scored a career-high 18 points and the University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars defeated the Blackburn Beavers 76-61 Monday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Bergerud finished 9 of 11 at the free-throw line and grabbed seven rebounds. Junior Bailey Beale poured in 17 points and four 3-pointers, and Paulina Pogorzelski chipped in 14 points on 7 of 11 shooting for UIS. Alex Blair made a pair of 3s and finished with 12 points for the Stars, and Mallory Beck pulled down 10 rebounds.

UIS never trailed, taking an early 11-point lead. The Stars closed the first half on an 11-5 run with Beale scoring eight points during the spurt. UIS shot 63.3 percent (19-for-30) in the first half, but cooled down in the second, making 7 of 25 (.280) shots. The Stars made 16 of 21 foul shots (.762) while the Beavers struggled, hitting 19 of 35 (.543).

Sierra Shipley and Kariann Hill combined for five 3s and each scored 18 points to lead Blackburn (0-5).

The win was featured in a November 30, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Wrongfully convicted men to speak at UI

Three men released from prison after being wrongfully convicted will be featured speakers at appearances on the University of Illinois campuses at Springfield and Champaign.

A release from the UI College of Law said the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at UI Springfield has been awarded a Bloodsworth Postconviction DNA testing grant from the U.S. Department of Justice that will support a collaboration with the UI College of Law and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

The grant is intended to defray the costs of post-conviction DNA testing and help wrongly convicted inmates try to prove their innocence.

To mark the grant, events will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Brookens Auditorium, 1 University Plaza, University of Illinois Springfield, and from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the University of Illinois College of Law, Max L. Rowe Auditorium, 504 E. Pennsylvania Ave., C. Both events are free and open to the public.

Featured panelists will include:

– Kirk Bloodsworth, the first person to be exonerated from death row in the nation through post-conviction DNA testing and for whom the grant program was named. He had been wrongfully convicted – twice – of the 1984 rape and murder of a 9-year-old Maryland girl.

– Randy Steidl, exonerated after 12 years on Illinois' death row after having been wrongly convicted of the 1986 murders of a Paris, Ill., couple.

– Jerry Hobbs, cleared in the summer of 2010 of the 2005 murders of his own daughter, 8, and a 9-year-old girl in Lake County, Ill.

– Keith Grant, chief of special defense and project development with the office of the Lake County Public Defender, and several Lake County staff, all of whom were associated with Hobbs' exoneration.

The grant will allow students to work on prospective cases that may, through DNA testing, demonstrate actual innocence of individuals serving long sentences in Illinois prisons. The students will work with law school faculty to evaluate evidence and the merit of the actual innocence claims and to develop motions for testing that will be brought to the courts.

The event was featured in a November 29, 2010, article in the Champaign News-Gazette.

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Oklahoma poll shows support of programs for female inmates

Many Oklahomans believe the state locks up too many women and think it is because of a lack of adequate alternative programs, a recent Oklahoma Poll found.

With Oklahoma No. 1 in the female incarceration rate, most residents say the state's current stance on crime and punishment is not making them safer.

Historically, public policy and research focused only on the experience of incarcerated men, said Juanita Ortiz, assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Illinois-Springfield, who also completed her doctorate degree at the University of Oklahoma studying female recidivism rates.

"With this newly arising examination of women as offenders, there has also been an increase in understanding their different pathways to crime and the greater effect that their incarceration tends to have on children left behind," Ortiz said.

Ortiz's comments were featured in a November 28, 2010, article in the Tulsa World.

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Multitasking, wireless printing come to iPad

Apple Inc. released new software on Nov. 22 that lets users of its iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices print wirelessly over Wi-Fi networks. The software addresses what has been a key complaint about the iPad to date—that users can’t print their documents from the tablet—and ed-tech observers say it could help spur more widespread use of the device in schools.

Ed-tech observers said the new software is a significant upgrade that could help further position the iPhone and iPad as instructional tools.

“This update is most welcome for those who have iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads,” said Ray Schroeder, professor emeritus and director of the University of Illinois at Springfield’s Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service. “It will make a huge difference to those of us who teach with these tools. We had been using workarounds such as dropbox.com to shift documents to other devices for printing. With so many schools and colleges providing iPads to students, these upgrades will have an immediate impact on teaching and learning.”

Schroeder said the top complaints he had heard before Apple’s announcement were the iPad’s lack of multitasking, lack of organizing folders, and inability to print documents.

Schroeder's comments were featured in a November 23, 2010, article by eSchool News.

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Area athletes sign with UIS softball and volleyball teams

Williamsville High School shortstop Lauren Hollinshead, Petersburg PORTA left-handed catcher/designated hitter Chelsea Minor and Taylorville outfielder Shannon Mitchell have all signed a letter of intent to play softball for the University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars.

Hollinshead carried a .343 batting average last season and had 22 runs batted in.

Minor hit a school-record nine home runs and tied the PORTA single-season mark for triples with nine. She had a .494 batting average and 23 RBIs. She had just two errors at catcher.

The left-handed Mitchell had a team-leading batting average of .426 and team-high 22 stolen bases.

Parkland College sophomore centerfielder Samantha Inman and Chicago Marist High catcher Alyssa Sierzega have also signed with the Stars.

Inman was named to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II All-American second team after hitting .386, 13 home runs, driving in 64 RBIs and stealing 23 bases.

Sierzega comes from a program that has won seven straight regional titles, including three consecutive Class 4A championships.

Volleyball: Jokisch headed to UIS

Taylor Jokisch, an outside hitter on the A-C Central/Virginia High School volleyball team, will play for the University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars next year.

Jokisch had 11 kills in her final match for A-C Central, which fell in two sets to Lutheran in the championship match of the Class 1A Jackonville Routt Sectional.

Lincoln Land Community College sophomores Beka Pruemer and middle hitter Megan Vladic have also signed with the Stars.

The signings were featured in a November 25, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bloodsworth to join panel talk about project

Kirk Noble Bloodsworth, the first person exonerated from death row through post-conviction DNA testing, will be among a panel of people who will discuss the importance of the UIS Downstate Illinois Innocence Project Tuesday, Nov. 30, at Brookens Auditorium at the University of Illinois Springfield.

The panel will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Other speakers include: Randy Steidl, who was exonerated after 12 years on Illinois Death Row; Jerry Hobbs, the most recent Illinois person to be exonerated; and Keith Grant of the of the Lake County public defender’s office and several other people associated with the Hobbs exoneration.

The event is free and open to the public.

The appearance was featured in a November 23, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Academy guides Lanphier seniors toward teaching

Coady Petropolous is one of 10 Lanphier High School seniors enrolled in the school’s teaching academy course — a yearlong class that takes a handful of students who show interest in becoming teachers and provides hands-on, daily classroom experience.

The course, now in its fourth year, also facilitates a chance to enter a small-but-mighty program at the University of Illinois Springfield that all but ensures a full-time teaching position with a local school district.

Once the students graduate from high school, each has an opportunity to be recommended for Project Midstate Student Support — a program founded in 1990 at the UIS College of Education and Human Services.

Dr. Loretta Meeks, the founding director of Project MSS and a professor in UIS’ teacher education department, said the program aims to teach local students in the hopes of producing local teachers.

Once accepted, students are eligible for scholarships that may pay for their entire tuition and often lead to a permanent teaching position in the Springfield or Decatur school districts.

The program partners with area community colleges, UIS and the Springfield and Decatur school districts, with a total of 50 students enrolled in the UIS program, drawing from each entity.

The program was featured in a November 19, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Cheers & Jeers: Lanphier students get great introduction to teaching

CHEERS to the 10 Lanphier High School seniors taking part in the school’s Teaching Academy. By taking part in the academy, these students are getting a look at the teaching profession they plan to pursue as a career. Students who graduate from the program who are subsequently accepted into a special program at the University of Illinois Springfield are guaranteed a job in a local school district if they graduate from UIS.

CHEERS to the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield, which recently was awarded a grant of $687,448 to pay for DNA testing in the cases it pursues. “This gives us the opportunity to examine cases that haven’t received resources before,” said Bill Clutter, director of investigations for the project. “It gives us resources to investigate requests we previously had to just file away.”

The two "cheers" were featured in a November 22, 2010, opinions article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Teachers and technology: The do's and don'ts of Facebook

Teachers and students often connect with one another online in college. Kara McElwrath teaches an online privacy class at UIS. She has an account for friends and another for students, which is solely for professional purposes.

McElwrath encourages all of her students to have two accounts once they begin their careers. One account for family and friends. The other for colleagues, and in teacher's cases, students. It should be used to share websites and educational videos. And she says, nothing else.

"As a teacher I wouldn't want my students to know whether I'm having a good or bad day," says McElwarth, "I wouldn't want to post on Facebook that I'm getting ready to go on vacation because then anybody can then see that, 'Hey I'm going to be out of town my house is going to be empty."

While students and teachers on college campuses are connecting, many K-12 school districts have strict policies prohibiting teachers from 'friending' a student online.

McElwrath was featured in a November 17, 2010, report by WCIA-TV.

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Watch the story on WCIA's website

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

UIS recognized for quality of classes, degrees available on the Web

With more than six out of every 10 students at the University of Illinois Springfield taking a class online instead of on campus, UIS has emerged as a leader in a field that’s changing the face of higher education.

For UIS, it’s the future. “I don’t think there’s a going back,” said UIS public administration professor Will Miller, who teaches half of his classes online and half on campus. “There’s going to be a mixture of both.”

The campus recently received two awards for online programs and leadership from the Sloan Consortium, a nonprofit organization that is a leader in promoting online learning. UIS, a member of the consortium along with dozens of other universities, including Harvard Business School, has received awards from Sloan before, as well as more than $3 million in grants over the years to establish its online offerings, which include graduate and undergraduate degrees.

The online awards were featured in a November 17, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

UIS Downstate Innocence Project gets $687K grant

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield has been awarded a $687,448 grant — one of the largest in the school’s history — to help pay for DNA testing.

“This gives us the opportunity to examine cases that haven’t received resources before,” said Bill Clutter, director of investigations for the project. “It gives us resources to investigate requests we previously had to just file away.”

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., helped facilitate the grant, which was obtained with the support of the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership.

The project initially will focus on 30 cases out of more than 400 requests received, said Larry Golden, director of the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project and a UIS professor. Those 30 or so cases — including two locally — will be further reviewed to determine if evidence can be tested or retested for DNA and if the likelihood is that the person convicted of the crime actually is innocent.

The grant was featured in a November 16, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS Downstate Illinois Innocence Project earns grant

College students in downstate Illinois who work on behalf of those who are wrongly convicted are getting a boost from the U. S. Department of Justice. The University of Illinois at Springfield has announced a grant of $687,448 for the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project.

The Bloodsworth Grant is named for Kirk Bloodsworth, the first death penalty inmate in the U. S. exonerated through DNA testing.

The project collaborates with the law schools at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at Southern Illinois University.

Bill Clutter, the project’s director of investigations, says it looks as if prosecutors and police simply do not care who is guilty: “You have a person facing the death penalty still, despite these reforms, where prosecutors are fighting to keep that evidence from being tested. And we face this in many of our cases, and this is a syndrome of a mindset of prosecutors that I don’t know what reforms we can enact that can change.”

The grant was featured by WTAX-AM/Illinois Radio Network in a November 15, 2010, report.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Kindergarten screening, the first step of college prep

Every child in Sangamon County could be a college graduate with the potential to bring more businesses, and more economic wealth, to the Springfield area. That’s the idea behind the Continuum of Learning, an education and workforce development initiative formed in March 2008 by three coordinating partners.

The Sangamon County Community Foundation, the United Way of Central Illinois and the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, last week hosted a community roundtable to celebrate the partnerships the initiative has built and the programs it’s helped bring about. The three coordinating partners have all pledged support and funding to programs that align with the Continuum’s mission – to strengthen the area’s education system and workforce, which in turn will bring more economic prosperity.

The goal is to increase the college-going rate in Springfield and Sangamon County, which in turn will provide a better economic outlook for the area, says Dr. Harry Berman, chair of the Continuum’s steering committee. But in order to significantly affect the number of residents who move on to higher education or greater vocational attainment, children must receive help early, Berman says.

Chancellor Berman's comments were featured in a November 11, 2010, article in the Illinois Times.

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Umeadi's free throw boosts Prairie Stars

Chigozie Umeadi hit a game-winning free throw with 2.3 seconds remaining as the University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team survived a second straight thriller to beat Northwood University 80-79 Saturday in the GLVC/GLIAC Challenge at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

On Friday, UIS’ Brandon Farmer drained a game-winning shot with 4.3 seconds left in a season-opening 67-66 win over Lake Superior State.

“I told the guys after last night I enjoy winning and let’s make it a little easier,” UIS first-year coach Ben Wierzba said.

That didn’t happen. The game featured 25 lead changes.

The Prairie Stars trailed Northwood 34-33 at halftime. Cameron Joyce’s 3-pointer put the Timberwolves ahead 77-75 with 1:30 to go in the second half and the back-and-forth battle continued. A pair of free throws by Northwood forward Darvin Ham tied the contest at 79 with 10 seconds remaining.

Ham fouled Umeadi, setting up the game-winning foul shot. Umeadi made the first of two free throws. Northwood guard Joe Powers rebounded Umeadi’s miss on the second shot, then called a timeout.

Umeadi stole the inbounds pass, keeping the Timberwolves (0-2) from getting off a last-second shot. He scored three of the Stars’ final five points. The sophomore forward finished with a career-high 21 points and eight rebounds, both team highs.

The win was featured in a November 14, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Farmer's buzzer-beater gives UIS victory in season opener

Point guard Brandon Farmer made the game-winning shot as time expired to give the University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars a 67-66 win over Lake Superior State in the season-opening men’s basketball game for both teams at the GLVC-GLIAC Challenge on Friday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

With 4.3 seconds remaining in regulation and the Prairie Stars trailing 66-65, Farmer, a senior, drove the length of the court and swished a 16-footer for the win. It was Farmer’s second basket of the game as he finished 2 for 10 from the field, including 1 for 5 from 3-point range. He scored nine points, going 4 for 4 from the free throw line.

Sophomore forward Chigozie Umeadi led UIS with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds, and junior guard Lester Hart added 15 points and three 3-pointers for the Prairie Stars, who led 34-31 at halftime.

Micah Hudson made six 3-pointers and scored a game-high 26 points while pulling down 13 rebounds for Lake Superior State.

The win was featured in a November 13, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Citizen Police Academy gets people involved with Springfield police

New to the academy this year is a partnership with students from the University of Illinois Springfield. They make up 20 of the 32 current participants, according to Stephen Schnebly, a criminal justice professor at UIS. He and fellow professors Ryan Williams and Jay Gilliam talked with Police Chief Robert Williams about teaming up to provide student volunteers and a critique of the program.

“In the past, it had gone on without us knowing much about it,” Schnebly said. “Quite frankly, I didn’t expect a huge number of folks to volunteer. It was just an outpouring of interest.”

Schnebly said the academy helps build relationships and trust between police and citizens, who often only know “what goes on in the black box of policing.”

“Research has shown for decades that most crime doesn’t get reported,” he said. “In order for police to be productive in their jobs … they need to work with the citizens they serve.”

The three professors take turns observing the weekly sessions. They take notes and hope to provide critiques after the academy ends.

The research was featured in a November 12, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Challenging start awaits Prairie Stars men's basketball team

University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball fans can catch their first glimpse of the 2010-11 Prairie Stars at 7:45 p.m. today in the regular-season opener against Lake Superior State at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

UIS first-year coach Ben Wierzba already has had the opportunity to see his team in action. The Stars lost 80-53 to Illinois-Chicago last week and fell 111-66 Sunday at Iowa.

“We had good and bad moments,” he said. “When we executed like we were supposed to, good things happened for us. There were some strong points defensively. We took a couple charges and dove on the floor for loose balls.”

The NCAA Division II Stars didn’t score an upset of a Division I team. However, other GLVC members pulled off victories over Division I opponents in exhibition games on the road.

The team was featured in a November 12, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Music Notes: UIS anniversary

The University of Illinois Springfield Concert Band on Friday will premiere a new work to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the school.

William Davis’ “Song and Spirit” will be presented at the UIS Showcase Concert, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Sangamon Auditorium, in conjunction with the annual Alumni Awards Dinner.

For more information, visit www.uis.edu/music or call 206-6240.

The concert was featured in a November 11, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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New school song

The University of Illinois at Springfield passes another milestone as a new school spirit song has been commissioned and will be presented for the first time by the UIS Concert Band with the composer, Dr. William Davis, in attendance. The Chamber Orchestra also performs, a slide show of the campus’ past will be shown, and the winning lyrics to the spirit song from a recent contest will be performed by the UIS Chorus. Community musicians are invited to join UIS musicians in UIS music ensembles. Rehearsals for the spring semester begin January 18, 2011. Those interested should phone 206-6240 or visit www.uis.edu/music.

UIS 40th Anniversary Showcase Concert
Friday, Nov. 12, 7:30pm
Sangamon Auditorium, UIS
206-6240

The event was featured on November 11, 2010, in an Illinois Times article.

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Montgomery signs with UIS

Sacred Heart-Griffin High School middle hitter Katie Montgomery will reunite with her former volleyball coach Angie Riggle next season at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Montgomery signed Wednesday with the NCAA Division II volleyball program coached by Riggle.

“Angie coached SHG before and I really liked her,” Montgomery said.

Benedictine University at Springfield recruited Montgomery along with schools in
Maryland, Maine and Tennessee.

Montgomery was featured in a November 11, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Five alumni to receive awards from UIS

The director of the national Marine Corps museum is among five University of Illinois Springfield graduates who will be honored by the school’s alumni association Friday.

Lin Ezell, a 1974 UIS graduate, director of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, will receive the Alumni Achievement Award. The award is the highest honor bestowed upon graduates of the University and is given to those who have attained distinction and success in their profession or life’s work.

“I was very surprised, but I think that’s a common theme among most recipients,” said Ezell, who is active on the Alumni Advisory Council. “I was very shocked when I got the call.

“I’ve had an embarrassment of riches in my career and I think we all look back to our roots in education for those successes,” said Ezell, who originally is from Lewistown.

Ezell, who graduated with a degree in English, worked at NASA in Houston for 10 years, and then went on to work for the Smithsonian for 21 years before becoming the director of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, which opened in 2006.

The awards were featured in a November 8, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Bernard Schoenburg: Familiar folks

The BILL MILLER Public Affairs Reporting Hall of Fame is inducting three new members on Nov. 15. The hall honors graduates of the PAR graduate program at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

The honorees are SUSAN CORNWELL, 55; BARBARA HIPSMAN, 59; and JOHN O’CONNOR, 47.

Cornwell, now a Capitol Hill correspondent for Reuters, was raised in Metropolis and Edwardsville, and long ago worked with me at The Daily Illini in Champaign-Urbana. Her first full-time reporting job — when her name was still Susan Jay Smith — was with The State Journal-Register in 1977-78. She went on to report from several countries. In 1996, she won the Merriman Smith Award for presidential reporting on deadline, given to one journalist a year by the White House Correspondents’ Association.

Hipsman has been an associate professor of journalism and mass communication at Kent State University in Ohio since 1987 and received the Distinguished Teaching Award there in 1994. She earlier taught at Bradley University in Peoria and for six years was Statehouse bureau chief for the Belleville News Democrat when that paper had a full-time Springfield presence. Her husband, BOB SPRINGER, is a former Associated Press reporter at the Statehouse.

O’Connor, an AP political writer stationed at the Statehouse since 1998, continues to give politicians fits. He’s the guy who wrote stories about the secret prison early-release program and the staff pay raises in the Quinn administration. O’Connor, who won the AP’s Oliver S. Gramling Journalism Achievement award this year, complete with $10,000, is also an amateur actor and was featured in recent local productions of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and “Annie.”

The awards were featured in Bernard Schoenburg's November 7, 2010, column in The State Journal-Register.

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Brady concedes, Quinn claims mandate

Gov. Pat Quinn’s quest to become the elected leader of Illinois was fulfilled Friday when his Republican challenger conceded the state’s closest governor’s race in decades, leaving Quinn to argue he has a mandate to push a tax increase in the face of one of the nation’s worst state budget problems.

It will be up to Quinn to persuade lawmakers that his election provides him with more political leverage, considering the closeness of the race, said Chris Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Quinn disagrees.

“I’ve said all along we need revenue for education, in particular, in Illinois, and by winning the election I think that is support for us to do exactly that,” he has said.

Mooney's comments were featured in a November 6, 2010, article by the Associated Press.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Fast growing companies rely on overseas growth

Ron McNeil, dean of the College of Business and Management at the University of Illinois Springfield was featured on American Public Media's Marketwatch on November 5, 2010.

The following is a portion of the transcript from the radio interview:

JEREMY HOBSON: Earnings season continues this morning with quarterly reports from Beazer Homes,and Dish Network. If there's been one pattern this earnings season, it's this: companies that are growing are relying on sales overseas for that growth.

We're going to dig into that now with Ron McNeil. He heads the College of Business and Management at the University of Illinois-Springfield. Ron, thanks for joining us.

RON MCNEIL: Thank you Jeremy.

HOBSON: Well, we've seen earnings in the last couple weeks. Merck says it now gets 18 percent of revenue from emerging markets. Dow Chemical, Proctor and Gamble, this is obviously a trend by why is there such growth in emerging countries and not here in the U.S.?

MCNEIL: Well, emerging markets are coming out of very little. So their consumer markets are great. Any growth is big growth but when you're talking about populations of a billion in India, 1.3 billion in China, even 300- or 400 million people in China buying more makes a huge impact.

Download the full text of the interview as a PDF

Listen to the interview online

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Local business mood cautious, survey finds

The cautious mood of local companies is little changed from last spring, according to a fall update from the University of Illinois Springfield.

One-third of more than 170 sample firms and organizations surveyed said the Sangamon County economy will slow down in the coming year, while 18 percent expected growth and a little less than half expected no change.

UIS conducts the survey for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce each spring and fall.

“The folks I’m talking too are cautiously optimistic that we have turned the corner on the recession. There is not a huge rush to add a bunch of employees, which is problematic for the nation as a whole,” Erich Bloxdorf, executive vice president of the chamber, said Thursday.

The survey was featured in a November 5, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS guard Farmer on committee that chose new coach Wierzba

Brandon Farmer was given an inside look at an aspect of college athletics that most players don’t get to see, let alone be a part of.

The 5-foot-10 University of Illinois Springfield senior point guard was a part of the search committee whose job it was to help find a replacement for former UIS men’s basketball coach Kevin Gamble. Gamble resigned in June to become the director of player development at NCAA Division I Providence College.

“At first I thought, ‘Why would they want a player on the committee?’ Then it made sense,” said Farmer, a former Lincoln High School standout and two-time Central State Eight Conference Player of the Year. “I kind of thought I was just going to be there, but I actually felt they used my opinion a little bit.

“They wanted to hear what I thought as a player, and I think they listened to me a little. I enjoyed picking our new coach and having some kind of say in it from a player’s perspective.”

As part of the committee, Farmer spent three days studying more than 100 applications. He says from there, they narrowed the list to seven candidates, then three finalists. He was present for interviews and other aspects of the search.

Farmer was featured in a November 3, 2010, article by The State Journal-Register.

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Syrian official says resolving Arab-Israeli conflict key to peace

The Syrian ambassador to the United States visited Springfield last week, urging better relations between the two countries and an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking at the University of Illinois Springfield, Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha discussed Syrian-U.S. relations and answered questions from the audience of about 130 people. Syria is on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, bordering Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Moustapha, a career academic with a doctorate in computer science, was appointed by the Syrian government to serve as an ambassador in 2004.

The Ambassador Series event was featured in a November 4, 2010, article in the Illinois Times.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Exhibit explores codes of life, society

The intersection — where man meets machine — is the subject of “Object Code,” a new exhibit opening today in the Visual Arts Gallery at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Artist Mike Miller takes the title literally, turning ephemeral fragments of computer language into physical artifacts of paper, plastic and wood.

A reception marking the opening of “Object Code” is scheduled for 5:30 to 8 p.m. today in the Visual Arts Gallery, in Room 201 of the UIS Health and Sciences Building.

Miller will also deliver a lecture on his research at noon Wednesday in Rooms C/D of the UIS Public Affairs Center.

Regular gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. “Object Code” closes Dec. 1.

The exhibit was featured in a November 4, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Brady, Quinn remain stuck in limbo

Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bill Brady were stuck in limbo Wednesday instead of launching a transition or tackling one of the nation’s worst budget problems, as the Illinois governor’s race dragged on along with a handful of other contests nationwide.

An unsettled election also could slow down Quinn’s progress on the politically risky income tax increase he campaigned on to help relieve the state’s finances. He wants to increase the tax rate from 3 percent to 4 percent to generate more money for education, although lawmakers wouldn’t get behind his previous push.

Lawmakers are unlikely to tackle such a thorny issue until the winner of the governor’s race is finalized, said Kent Redfield, a professor emeritus of politics at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

“They’d want to be very confident that this is part of a four-year strategy and not suddenly have to be dealing with a Gov. Brady,” Redfield said.

Redfield's comments were featured in a November 4, 2010, Associated Press article.

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Kirk ready for first vote against Obama

Mark Kirk has vowed to be in the vanguard of a Republican bulwark against President Barack Obama's spending and tax plans. At the same time, Illinois' newly elected senator says he will be a model of conciliation and compromise in an era of sharp partisan divide.

Chris Mooney, a political science professor at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois, said the generally moderate politics of Illinois dictate that Kirk regain his pragmatic streak if he hopes to stick in the Senate.

"He will do whatever it takes to be elected from the state of Illinois. That's not an easy task for a Republican in this state," Mooney said. "I do not expect Mark Kirk to veer to the right."

Mooney predicted Kirk will not always be a sure party line vote for Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell. "On average, Kirk will vote Republican because he is a Republican," Mooney said. "On the tough votes, however, I think he'll be up for grabs."

Mooney's comments were featured in a November 4, 2010, article in the Chicago Tribune.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kirk defeats Giannoulias to win Obama's Senate seat in Illinois

President Obama's former U.S. Senate seat moved into Republican hands Tuesday as U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk narrowly defeated Democratic Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, an Obama protégé and basketball buddy.

The campaign played out in negative TV ads focused on the candidates' credibility. Kirk, 51, acknowledged that he had exaggerated his military record. Giannoulias, 34, defended his management of a state college savings program and the collapse of a bank his family owned.

"The reason the race was very close is that neither candidate was able to take advantage of what should be strengths," says Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Giannoulias is "bright, engaging," and his job as treasurer should have highlighted his economic qualifications, he says. Kirk's win, Redfield says, followed the playbook for how a Republican can win in Illinois: "Don't scare swing voters in the suburbs." Kirk focused on his foreign policy and military credentials as a Navy reservist.

Redfield's comments were featured in a November 3, 2010, article in USA Today.

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While GOP gains nationally, Illinois remains split

Even in the face of a massive Republican national wave, the state of Illinois remains split between the major parties.

Republican Mark Kirk’s capture of President Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat is a feather in the GOP’s cap nationally, but Kirk’s victory also reflected the flaws in the Democratic candidate, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

Republicans made gains in the Illinois General Assembly, but both chambers remain in Democratic hands.

But Tuesday’s race for the office that has the most day-to-day impact on the lives of Illinoisans – the governor – remained neck-and-neck late Tuesday.

No matter who emerges victorious, says a political scientist from the University of Illinois Springfield, he won’t have an easy job.

“Whatever happens, there’s bad times ahead,” said Chris Mooney of the U of I’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

Mooney's comments were featured in a November 3, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

UIS students collect 8,294 pounds of canned food

Students at the University of Illinois Springfield collected 8,294 pounds of food during the annual Trick-or-Treat for Canned Goods competition Halloween night.

Seventeen teams of UIS student volunteers canvassed Springfield neighborhoods to collect non-perishable food items Sunday night. The teams visited the neighborhoods before Halloween, distributing door hangers that explained the project.

The drive is part of the UIS Holiday Stars Project, a campuswide service initiative. The effort shifts to the UIS campus, with a goal of collecting additional canned foods to reach an overall goal of 10,000 pounds by Dec. 2.

The drive was featured in a November 2, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS women's basketball team returns brightest star

Following knee surgery in May, Paulina Pogorzelski took a been-there, done-that approach to her recovery.

“I did my rehab on my own because I’ve done rehab before and I pretty much know all the basics,” said Pogorzelski, a senior forward on the University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball team.

The 6-foot-1 Pogorzelski played while injured for nearly the entire 2009-10 season. The Chicago native tore the meniscus in her left knee while going for a rebound in practice last December.

Pogorzelski, who also was bothered by a tear in hip joint cartilage, didn’t let the injuries stop her. She kept playing and ended the season as the Prairie Stars’ top scorer and rebounder at 14.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.

She underwent surgery in the spring on the same knee that she injured playing soccer in high school. That time she tore the anterior cruciate ligament.

Pogorzelski was featured in a November 2, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Lincoln Academy to honor 49 top college students

A half-dozen central Illinoisans is among 49 top college students to be honored Nov. 6 by the the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

The Lincoln Academy gives Student Laureate Awards annually to seniors from each of the four-year, degree-granting colleges and universities in the state, plus one community college student.

The award ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site.

The Lincoln Academy’s Student Laureate Awards are presented for excellence in classroom and extracurricular activities.

Student laureates for 2010 from area colleges or from the Springfield area:
University of Illinois Springfield, Kimberly Bartosiak, Bethalto

The award was featured in a November 1, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Illinois' unique campaign concludes

Illinois heads for the polls Tuesday to close one of the most unpredictable election seasons ever.

The only certainty is that neither of the top two offices — governor or U.S. Senate — will be won by anyone who has previously won either post. There is no elected incumbent on the ballot.

That unusual twist comes as the result of two national political stories in the last two years that had Illinois at their epicenters: the rise of Barack Obama, and the fall of Rod Blagojevich.

"It's a very unusual (governor's) race because you have two candidates who weren't supposed to be there," said Kent Redfield, political scientist at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Redfield's comments were featured in an October 31, 2010, article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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Control of Illinois House, Senate at stake

Democrat Michael Madigan on Tuesday will try to extend his long run as Illinois House speaker, hoping that the widespread expectation of Republican momentum in this year's election doesn't turn into a sequel to 1994.

That's the year the Southwest Side chieftain tumbled from power, the only blemish since he first seized control 28 years ago, an exile that lasted but two years.

Madigan and House Republican leader Tom Cross, joined by Democratic Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno, are dumping scads of cash into the most competitive races, hoping to tip the scales their way.

It's also expected the record for spending on a single legislative seat will fall, with the tab for one downstate Senate race projected to surpass $2.4 million, said Kent Redfield, a longtime campaign finance expert based at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Redfield's comments were featured in an October 31, 2010, article in the Chicago Tribune.

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